It’s That Time of Year

The catalogs have been arriving in the mail for months, because it’s that time of year.  The solicitations for charitable and political donations come in multiples every day, and even a few early holiday cards, letters, and invitations are trickling in.  The holiday season is upon us! The best holiday mail, of course, is personal:  the letters and cards that keep us in touch with family and friends, near and far.  I treasure these communications, and have trouble recycling them, even years after receipt.  The typical holiday letter has evolved over time.  These days, few people…

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To Feel Thankful

Not a day passes that I do not feel thankful for my good life.  We live in troubling times; but in the words of New York Times columnist David Brooks, “we should start every day with gratitude for the blessings we enjoy.” Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.  In the past, my in-laws hosted Passover.  My parents, especially my mother, took great joy in doing Christmas.  Thanksgiving, however, was all mine.  The first year I cooked for family and friends, the mashed potatoes were lumpy and the turkey was dry.  Everything took longer…

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Historic Cemeteries

Much of our nation’s history can be found in historic cemeteries.  According to Greg Melville, author of the book Over My Dead Body:  Unearthing the Hidden History of America’s Cemeteries, there are about 144,000 historic cemeteries scattered throughout the country. San Francisco banned new burials within the confines of the City in the early 20th century.  By mid-century, city leaders again noted that the city was growing and that the cemeteries were taking up valuable land space.  Much has been written about how the city in the 1940s relocated 160,000 of the dead to the City…

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Underwater Post Offices Throughout the World

Post offices around the world can be charming, unique, or simply functional, but few places feature underwater post offices.  Swimming and letter writing are some of my favorite pastimes, but not necessarily together!  Only a few underwater post offices have survived, but they have their place in history. Twenty years ago, the small town of Risør, located in the south of Norway, constructed an underwater post office as a novelty for tourists.  Established by the local scuba diving club, it was billed as the only dry underwater post office in the world.  Constructed in the form…

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Scams and Fraud

Despite spam filters on our email and posted warnings from banks and other financial institutions, scams and fraud seem more prevalent today than ever.  Clearly, scams would not exist if they were not successful. Newly released (Feb. 2023) Federal Trade Commission data shows that consumers reported losing nearly $8.8 billion to fraud in 2022, an increase of more than 30% over the previous year.  Topping the list are investment scams, followed by imposter scams. Scams and fraud seem to be hitting home.  Those poorly written, error filled emails such as the Nigerian Prince scam, which has…

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Free Stuff in the Mail

The holidays will soon be upon us, and already the pitches for non-profit donations are on their way, so expect to receive a lot of “free” stuff in the mail. Within the past two weeks, free items in my mail included one memo pad, one pack of tissues, return address labels from two different charities, one 2024 calendar featuring adorable dogs and puppies, and one set of six birthday cards with assorted designs.  I even received a solicitation that included a one-dollar bill.  Most of these gifts are from charities that I have never donated to,…

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Driverless Cars

Autonomous vehicles (AVs), or Driverless cars, have been testing their performance in San Francisco for many months, at first with drivers at the wheel to trouble shoot.  With its steep hills, crowded streets, distracting views, and large numbers of pedestrians, the city is notoriously difficult to drive in, making it a good test ground.  That is, good for the profit-making company sponsors, including Google, GM, Amazon and others, but so far, not so great for San Francisco residents. The AVs went truly driverless just a few weeks ago.  In a totally unscientific survey, I asked a…

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The Art of the Condolence Message

While a simple card or handwritten note is a meaningful way to express sympathy on the loss of a loved one, the art of the condolence message comes in many forms.  People send flowers, prepare food for the bereaved, attend memorials and funerals, make donations to charity. Bereavement and loss can come suddenly and unexpectedly, as it did for me last year (2022) when I lost my husband of over 52 years.   Condolence messages came in all of the above forms.  Friends and neighbors brought meals, flowers, honey, and plants, made donations.  During Murray's brief illness,…

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I Left My Heart in San Francisco

When Tony Bennett sang “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” my heart sang along with him.  Although he recently left us, at the age of 96, he immortalized a song that previously had had little traction.  And along the way, that old-time New Yorker became a permanent icon in the hearts of San Franciscans. It was not my intention to live my life in San Francisco.  I grew up in suburbs, and had my eyes on the temperate climate of Berkeley, CA, home of “Cal,” my alma mater.  Or perhaps Mill Valley, a beautiful town…

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What’s in Your Mail?

National Postal Worker’s Day was July 1, which seemed like a good time to check out what’s in your mail. As people have moved from doing business through the mail to electronic communications, first class mail has declined.  Banking, including bill paying, and personal communications have largely moved online.  Only occasionally do I receive handwritten notes, cards, letters, or postcards, and I suspect that I am not alone.  Even event invitations are conveyed electronically, through sites that track responses (RSVPs) and comments from invitees. Since 1926, the USPS has tracked mail volume by type of mail.…

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